This report summarizes the results of the online survey on International Entrepreneurship n the Arts, disseminated among the members of IFACCA (International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies) in May-June 2015. IFACCA Secretariat assisted my research on this topic. The results are included in Chapter 6 of my new book International Entrepreneurship in the Arts, to be published by Routledge in 2016.

Why is International Entrepreneurship an Important Issue in the Arts?

International entrepreneurship is a dynamic, evolving and motivating field for scholars, researchers, educators, artists and managers in the arts. In the current global context of scarcity of financial resources for the arts, artists and art managers require more than ever innovative methods and tools to expand their creative ideas and projects internationally in order to find a sustainable ways to increase audiences for the arts and attract diverse stakeholders. Artistic creativity nowadays is not simply a personal expression, but a means to influence society, foster economic growth, and create new jobs by transforming an artistic idea into a business model. Therefore, it is inevitably connected with the development of creative industries and cultural entrepreneurship. Governments and diverse stakeholders at local, national and international level have an important role to play in creating a support system for entrepreneurial climate in the arts.

What Were the Aims of This Research?

The online survey aimed at answering the following key questions:

  • How do the national governments, local authorities and diverse stakeholders support arts entrepreneurs, organizations and artists that go beyond national borders with a creative idea that has the potential to earn revenue?
  • What are the opportunities, barriers and trends in international entrepreneurship in the arts in different countries? What are effective ways by which arts entrepreneurs expand internationally?
  • What are the leading examples in support of international entrepreneurship in the arts in different countries?
  • What are some of the success stories of arts entrepreneurs and organizations in different countries and regions of the world?
  • What are the “lessons learned” about how to expand a creative idea internationally?

The survey consisted of 12 open and closed questions. Twenty six people from 19 countries responded to the questionnaire – 18 in English, 4 in French and 2 in Spanish. Below is the summary of the survey’s results.

Scope of International Entrepreneurship in the Arts

Respondents of the online survey answered that there are four main aspects related to the term international entrepreneurship in the arts, ranking them in priority order as follows:

  • Gradual expansion of an arts organization globally after positioning itself on the domestic market (16%).
  • Attracting international sources of financing and funding in the development of an emerging arts organization (16%).
  • Starting an entrepreneurial arts organization or project in another country and conducting business activities based on a creative idea across national boundaries (4%)
  • Presenting of artistic projects, or events in front of audiences beyond the national boundaries.
  • All of the above (60%)
  • Other (4%). Here respondents outline the following two aspects of IEA: simultaneous presence in several countries and starting up an arts venture that is run by a multinational team


Sectors Most Suitable for Entrepreneurial Developmentglobalbusiness

The online survey aimed at identifying the sectors of arts and creative industries that are most suitable for starting up entrepreneurial ventures. Respondents in the survey ranked them in the following way (please, note that the question had multiple choice answers):

  • Music and sound recording (73%)
  • Visual and applied arts (72%)
  • Performing arts (62%)
  • Crafts (62%)
  • Design (61%)
  • Cultural heritage (60%)
  • Fashion (50%)
  • Film (45%)
  • Video (34%)
  • Publishing (33%)
  • Multimedia art (33%)
  • Animation (28%)
  • Computer games (27%)
  • Architecture (22%)
  • Others (11%)

Several respondents expressed opinions that all sectors could be suitable for elaboration of entrepreneurial models. In some sectors this depends to a great extent on public funding (like cultural heritage), while in other branches entrepreneurs could generate more revenues from audiences and buyers (e.g. video games, film business or music business). The important aspect of an entrepreneurial model in the arts is to keep a balance between self-generated incomes and public funding, especially in the cases of social entrepreneurship.

Models of International Expansion

International entrepreneurs in the arts have different choices to expand their creative business abroad. They have an option to start internationally from the early inception of an innovative idea, or to grow the venture beyond borders after the initial domestic positioning and local success. The process of considering expansion beyond borders usually starts with evaluation of the main reasons for international growth and a thorough research of all influencing external and internal factors in order to find out the driving and restraining forces that might influence the expansion process. The research results shows that the choice of a model for international expansion is influencing by diverse factors, such as: the aspiration of the arts entrepreneur, the motivation to expand internationally, the “exportability” of cultural goods and services, the art venture’s capacity and potential for growth, options for partnership and collaboration in the targeted country, the overall situation in the targeted country, the level of risk which arts entrepreneur need to undertake, as well as practical and logistical matters.

One of the questions in the online survey was about the most common and preferred methods which entrepreneur in the arts use to expand their ventures abroad. The list below represents respondents’ answers, in a priority order (please, note that the question had multiple-choice answers):

  • Networking (88%)
  • Co-productions (75%)
  • Touring (66%)
  • Artistic cooperatives (53%)
  • Representatives (40%)
  • Online expansion (40%)
  • Agents (33%)
  • Consortium (33%)
  • Creative clusters (33%)
  • Licensing (27%)
  • Strategic alliances (non-equity) (27%)
  • Distributors (22%)
  • Strategic alliances (equity based) (20%)
  • Indirect export (through trade houses) (14%)
  • Merging (13%)
  • Acquisition (7%)
  • Horizontal integration (6%)
  • Vertical integration (0%)
  • Others (please specify):

Collaborative models of international expansion, such as networking and co-productions are ranked with priority. They aim at combining efforts, competences, resources and expertise of arts organisations in order to achieve mutually beneficiary results by working together. Touring is an especially effective model for performing arts organisations that aim at reaching international audiences and increase their visibility abroad. Foreign agents and other types of representatives also receive high ranking in the list, especially related to arts ventures that sell abroad creative and cultural goods in the field of fine arts and crafts. Establishing of international consortium is useful for attracting international funding for a specific project, for building up a new cultural venue, or for promoting the value of cultural resources to local communities. This type of partnership is often used by nonprofit organisations and social enterprises. Licensing is a popular international expansion model especially in some branches of creative industries such as visual arts, music, design and photography.

Business models focused on online distribution and sales are also very popular in the arts, especially considering the rapid development of Web 2.0 tools and other online and mobile technologies in the 21st century.

Development of strategic alliances, horizontal and vertical integration methods, indirect exporting, as well as mergers and acquisitions are not very popular international expansion models in the arts sector. One of the reasons is that they are usually effective for big corporations and arts sector worldwide is fragmented, consisting of small and medium-scale businesses that do not have the capacity and resources to use these methods of expansion.

EAK-BabsonArts-Final-940x400Examples of Arts Enterprises

Part of the online survey was related to finding examples of arts enterprises that start small and local, but then rapidly develop internationally, that have innovative characteristics, efficient business mode and aim at global leadership. Survey respondents provided the following examples coming from eight countries:

There are several key success factors in the process of international expansion of an arts venture, as follows:

  • Ongoing innovation and high creative capacity;
  • Choice of the right partner in the targeted country;
  • Maintaining a strong international network of partners, audiences and supporters;
  • Understanding and applying online technologies;
  • Creative and devoted international team, and
  • Constant observation of trends and external factors.


Examples of Government Support for International Entrepreneurship in the Artsi-can-t-keep-calm-because-i-m-an-artist

Government support mechanisms for international entrepreneurship in the arts vary from country to country. Some strategies and tools are specialized for the creative industries while others are part of the general country support for international trade and business. There are several main methods of government support, as follows:

  • Legislative mechanisms for import-export of arts-related products
  • Export and trade support services, including export finance measures and fiscal initiatives
  • Promotional activities for arts events and organisations that expand abroad
  • Cultural diplomacy

Governments’ support on organizational level includes the following mechanisms:

  • Support for international co-productions;
  • Establishment of incubators and accelerators for startup companies in the arts and creative industries;
  • Offering low-cost spaces for artistic innovation and entrepreneurial activities in the arts;
  • Support of networks of startup companies, and
  • Assistance of artists-run centers and cooperatives.

On individual level, governments in different countries support artists and entrepreneurs in the arts in their efforts to expand abroad in the following main ways:

  • Individual travel grants;
  • Individual travel loans;
  • Information sessions for possibility to expand abroad;
  • Support for attending international events, such as trade shows and festivals;
  • Mentorship and coaching for arts entrepreneurs; and
  • Awards and prizes for the most successful arts entrepreneurs and inventors.

Respondents in the survey provided a few concrete country examples of government support for international entrepreneurship in the arts, as follows:

Arts entrepreneurs need to explore what are the support system elements that exist in their country in all the three sectors-government, business and nonprofit, and how to use these opportunities. It is important that they are aware of the direct and indirect cultural policy methods for support of arts entrepreneurship, as well as the city strategy for investing in innovations, creativity and the arts as vectors for further economic and social development.

What’s next?

The forthcoming book International Entrepreneurship in the Arts (Routledge, 2016) will provide further understanding and analysis of elements of the support system for entrepreneurship in the arts that exist on international, national and local level. It aims to help entrepreneurs in the arts to apply successfully theoretical strategies and tools into their practice to cross borders and expand their artistic ventures internationally.

Read more on the research results at IFACCA D’Art research reports soon!


Image Sources:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>